A complete guide to Shih Tzu dogs

The Shih Tzu breed originated in China and is one of the oldest dog breeds. The name Shih Tzu is both singular and plural and it translates to “lion dog.” The Shih Tzu is a small, lively breed of dog.


Height: A typical Shih Tzu stands about 10 inches tall at the withers.

Weight: A typical Shih Tzu weighs between 10 and 16 pounds. A teacup Shih Tzu (also called an Imperial Shih Tzu) may be slightly smaller.

Coat: Shih Tzu have long, soft, double coats that seem to flow around the body. The coat can be any color, but white patches on the forehead and tip of the tail are common.

Ears and Eyes: Ears are large, very hairy and they hand down on either side of the face. Eyes are large and dark in color.

Tail: Shih Tzu have very furry tails that lie curled over their backs.


The Shih Tzu is a very alert and active dog. The breed tends to be friendly and playful. Some Shih Tzu can be difficult to house train and may exhibit signs of separation anxiety. Some may bark excessively.

AKC Group: Toy

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Training: The Shih Tzu typically responds well to training, although it may require more patience than other breeds.

Ideal Environment: Unlike many larger breeds, a Shih Tzu is a good dog for those who live in an apartment or condo. A yard is not a necessity, as Shih Tzu can get sufficient exercise indoors (in addition to a daily walk).

Health and Care

Feeding: It’s important to observe proper dog nutrition guidelines when feeding a Shih Tzu. It’s a breed that thrives on treats and human food, but it’s important to resist the temptation to stray too far from a standard, healthy diet.

Grooming: This breed requires daily grooming, as its coat is very long. Many owners tie a topknot to keep hair out of the dog’s eyes, which are sensitive. Some owners opt to have their Shih Tzu’s coat trimmed. On the plus side, the Shih Tzu sheds little to no hair.

Exercise: The Shih Tzu requires minimal exercise, especially when compared to larger breeds. A daily walk and some play inside your home is often enough.

Health Problems: The breed is prone to slipped stifle and spinal disc disease as a result of its long spine and short legs.

Average Lifespan: The life expectancy of a Shih Tzu is 15 years.

Finding a Shih Tzu to Own

Shih Tzu breeders offer Shih Tzu puppies for sale, typically in the $300 to $900 price range. It is advisable to compare several different breeders before making a decision. Be sure to ask for lineage information and breeder certification.

A cheaper alternative is to adopt a Shih Tzu from a shelter. Animal rescue centers match neglected, abused and abandoned dogs with new owners.